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Mall TV network Firm Buys Rosemont Theatre Naming Rights

Crain's Chicago Business, February 13, 2012

By John Pletz

(Crain’s) — Akoo International Inc., which runs an interactive music-television ad network serving shopping malls and college dorms, is putting its name on the Rosemont Theatre.

The company is paying $1.5 million over five years to rename the 4,400-seat venue the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont, according to Gary Mack, a spokesman for the village of Rosemont, which owns the theater.

As part of the deal, the company also will be able to use the facility to produce music and other programming for its Akoo TV network, which is available in 165 malls nationwide, including Shops at North Bridge on Michigan Avenue. Akoo also will create a VIP lounge at the theater to be used for marketing and sponsorship.

“Naming rights deals are better for unknown brands,” says Jim Andrews, a senior vice president at IEG LLC, which helps advise companies on sponsorship. “They get more out of it than someone with broad name recognition. What will be a bit of a challenge for Akoo is they’ll have to get people used to calling it something else. It’s very easy to call it the Rosemont theatre.”

The theater, which opened in 1995, is across the street from Akoo’s new headquarters, where it also has signage rights. Last year, the theater hosted about 135 events, says Harry Papas, executive director of the facility.

The village also owns the 18,500-seat Allstate Arena. Allstate Corp., which signed a $1 million-a-year-deal in 1999, re-upped its sponsorship deal three years ago though 2014. The agreement with Akoo comes at a time when local budgets are still strained from the recession.

“In this day and age, every village is looking to maximize revenue,” says Mr. Mack, the Rosemont spokesman. “We had been looking to do a deal for a while.”

It also is looking to sell naming rights for the Park at Rosemont, an entertainment complex under construction near Interstate 294 and Balmoral Avenue.